Ark of the Covenant - Bible History Online
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Son of Lamech, grandson of Methuselah; tenth from Adam in Seth's line. In contrast to the Cainite Lamech's boast of violence with impunity, the Sethite Lamech, playing on Noah's ("rest") name, piously looks for "comfort" (nachum) through him from Jehovah who had "cursed the ground." (See LAMECH.) At 500 years old Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth. The phrase, "these are the generations of Noah" (Genesis 6:9) marks him as the patriarch of his day. The cause of the flood is stated Genesis 6:1-3, etc. "The sons of God (the Sethites, adopted by grace, alone keeping themselves separate from the world's defilements, 'called by the name of Jehovah' as His sons: Genesis 4:26 margin, or as KJV; while the Cainites by erecting a city and developing worldly arts were laying the foundation for the kingdom of this world, the Sethites by unitedly 'calling on Jehovah's name' founded the church made up of God's children, Galatians 3:26) saw the daughters of men (Cainites) and they took them wives of all which they chose" (fancy and lust, instead of the fear of God, being their ruling motive).
        When "the salt of the earth lost its savour" universal corruption set in. Judges 1:6-7, does not confirm the monstrous notion that "the sons of God" mean angels cohabiting carnally with women. The analogy to Sodom is this, the angels' ambition alienating their affections from God is a spiritual fornication analogous to the Sodomites' "going after strange flesh"; so covetousness is connected with whoremongering, as spiritually related (Ephesians 5:5). The book of Enoch takes the carnal cohabitation view; but because Judges 1:1 accords with it in sonic particulars it does not follow he accords with it in all. The parallel 2 Peter 2:4 refers to the first fall of the apostate angels, not to Genesis 6:2. The Israelites were "sons of God" (Deuteronomy 32:5; Hosea 1:10); still more "sons of Jehovah" the covenant God (Exodus 4:22; Deuteronomy 14:1; Psalm 73:15; Proverbs 14:26). "Wives" and "taking wives," i.e. marriage, cannot be predicated of angels, fornication and going after strange flesh; moreover Christ states expressly the "angels neither marry nor are given in marriage" (Matthew 22:30; Luke 20:35-36).
        "Unequal yoking" of believers with unbelievers in marriage has in other ages also broken down the separation wall between the church and the world, and brought on apostasy; as in Solomon's case (compare Nehemiah 13:23-26; 2 Corinthians 6:14). Marriages engrossing men just before the flood are specified in Matthew 24:38; Luke 17:27. Mixed marriages were forbidden (Exodus 34:16; Genesis 27:46; Genesis 28:1). "There were giants in the earth in those days": nephilim, from a root to fall, "fallers on others," "fellers," tyrants; applied in Numbers 13:33 to Canaanites of great stature. Smith's Bible Dictionary observes, if they were descendants of the Nephilim in Genesis 6:4 (?) the deluge was not universal. Distinct from these are the children of the daughters of men by the sons of God, "mighty men of old, men of renown." "The earth was corrupt before God, and filled with violence through them" (Genesis 6:11; Genesis 6:13).
        So God's long suffering at last gave place to zeal against sin, "My Spirit shall not always strive with (Keil, rule in) man," i.e. shall no longer contend with his fleshliness, I will give him up to his own corruption and its penalty (Romans 1:24; Romans 1:26-28), "for that he also (even the godly Sethite) is flesh," or as Keil, "in his erring he is fleshly," and so incapable of being ruled by the Spirit of God; even the godly seed is apostate and carnal, compare John 3:6. God still gave a respite of 120 years to mankind. Noah alone found grace in His sight; of him and Enoch alone it is written, "they walked with God." Noah was "just and perfect (sincere in aim, whole-hearted: Matthew 5:48; Genesis 17:1; Philemon 3:15) in his generations," among the successive generations which passed during his lifetime. God renews His covenant of grace to mankind in Noah's person, the one beacon of hope amidst the ruin of the existing race (Genesis 6:18). He was now 480 years old, because he entered the ark at 600 (Genesis 7:6).
        He was 500 when he begat his three sons, subsequently to God's threat (Genesis 5:32 in time is later than Genesis 6:3). In the 120 years' respite Noah was "a preacher of righteousness," "when the long suffering of God was continuing to wait on to the end (apexedecheto, and no 'once' is read in the Alexandrinus, the Vaticanus, and the Sinaiticus manuscripts) in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing," the limit of His long suffering (1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 2:5; Hebrews 11:7). "Warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with reverential (not slavish) fear (eulabetheis, contrasted with the world's sneering disbelief of God's word and self deceiving security) prepared an ark by faith (which evidenced itself in acting upon God's word as to the things not yet seen) to the saving of his house (for the believer tries to bring 'his house' with him: Acts 16:15; Acts 16:31; Acts 16:33-34; Acts 10:2), by the which he condemned the world (since he believed and was saved, so might they; his salvation showed their condemnation just: John 3:19) and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith."
        In Ezekiel 14:14 Noah, etc., are instanced as saved "by their righteousness," not of works, but of grace (Romans 4:3). The members of his family alone, his wife, three sons and their wives, were given to him amidst the general wreck. The ark which Noah built by God's order was like a ship in proportions, but with greater width (Genesis 6:14-15). The Hebrew teebah is the same as Moses' ark of bulrushes (Exodus 2:3): an Egyptian word for a "chest" or "coffer," fitted for burden not for sailing, being without mast, sail, or rudder. (See ARK.) Of "gopher," i.e. cypress wood, fitted for shipbuilding and abounding in Syria near Babylon, the region perhaps of Noah. With "rooms," literally, nests, i.e. berths or compartments, for men and animals. Pitched with "bitumen" making it watertight. The length 300 cubits (i.e., the cubit = 21 inches, 525 ft.), the width was 50 cubits (i.e. 87 ft. 6 inches), the height was 30 cubits (i.e. 52 ft. 6 inches).
        The "Great Eastern" is longer but narrower. Peter Jansen in 1609 built a vessel of the same proportions, but smaller, and it was found to contain one-third more freight than ordinary vessels of the same tonnage, though slow. Augustine (de Civ. Dei, 15) notices that the ark's proportions are those of the human figure, the length from sole to crown six times the width across the chest, and ten times the depth of the recumbent figure measured from the ground. Tiele calculated there was room for 7,000 species; and J. Temporarius that there was room for all the animals then known, and for their food. "A window system" (Gesenius) or course of windows ran for a cubit long under the top of the ark, lighting the whole upper story like church clerestory windows. A transparent substance may have been used, for many arts discovered by the Cainites (Genesis 4:21-22) and their descendants in the 2,262 years between Adam and the flood (Septuagint; Hebrew 1656 years) were probably lost at the deluge.
        The root of tsohar "window" implies something shining, distinct from challon, a single compartment of the larger window (Genesis 7:6); and "the windows of heaven," 'arubbowt, "networks" or "gratings." Noah was able to watch the bird's motions outside so as to take the dove in; this implies a transparent window. One door beside the window course let all in. As under Adam (Genesis 2:19-20) so now the lower animals come to Noah and he receives them in pairs; but of clean animals seven pairs of each kind, for sacrifice and for subsequent multiplication of the useful species, the clean being naturally distinguished from the unclean, sheep and (used for milk and wool) from carnivorous beasts of prey, etc. The physical preservation of the species cannot have been the sole object; for if the flood were universal the genera and species of animals would exceed the room in the ark, if partial there would be no need for saving in the ark creatures of the limited area man then tenanted, for the flooded area might easily be stocked from the surrounding dry land after the flood.
        The ark typified the redemption of the animal as well as of the human world. The hopes of the world were linked with the one typical representative human head, Noah (Genesis 5:29). Death existed in the animal world before man's creation, for man's fall foreseen and the world reflected the sad image of the fall that was to be; moreover, the pre-existing death and physical evil had probably a connection with Satan's fall. The regeneration of the creature (the animal and material world) finally with man, body as well as soul, is typified by Noah and the animals in the ark and the renewed earth, on which they entered (Romans 8:18-25; Revelation 21:1; 2 Peter 3:13; Matthew 19:28). The deluge began on the 17th day of the second month, i.e. the middle of November, the beginning of the rainy season, Tisri the first month beginning at the autumnal equinox. It lasted 150 days, i.e. five months of 30 days each; and the ark rested on Ararat the 17th of the seventh month (Genesis 7:11-12; Genesis 7:24; Genesis 8:4). The year thus was then 360 days, the old Egyptian year, which was corrected by the solar year, which also the Egyptians knew.
        "The fountains of the deep breaking up and the windows of heaven being opened" is phenomenal language. "The Lord shut Noah in," as it shall be in the last days (Isaiah 26:20); so Israel on the night of the slaying of the firstborn (Exodus 12:22-23; Psalm 31:20; Psalm 83:3; Psalm 27:5). The simplicity of the history, the death of all in whose nostrils was the breath of life, and the six times mention of the rescue of the favored few, impress one with the feeling of the completeness of the desolation and the special grace which saved the eight. The "40 days and 40 nights of rain" were part of the 150; forty is the number significant of judgment and affliction; as Israel's 40 years in the wilderness; Moses', Elijah's, and our Lord's 40 days of foodlessness.
        The Speaker's Commentary considers the Ararat meant to be southern Armenia (as in 2 Kings 19:37; Isaiah 37:38; the only other passages having the word), not the mountain 17,000 ft. above the sea, for 15 cubits water above it would submerge the whole earth. Noah successively sent, to ascertain the state of the earth, at intervals of seven days, a raven which rested on the ark but never entered it, wandering up and down and feeding on the floating caresses (emblem of the restless worldly spirit), and a dove, which finding no rest for the sole of her foot returned and Noah put forth his hand and took her and pulled her in unto him into the ark (emblem of the soul first drawn by Jesus to Himself: John 6:44; John 10:28-29); next she brought a fresh olive leaf (emblem of peace and the Holy Spirit, the earnest of our inheritance: Ephesians 1:13-14), which can live under a flood more than most trees; Theophrastus (Hist. Plant. 4:8) and Pliny (H.N. 50) mention olives in the Red Sea. At the third sending she returned no more (the emblem of the new heavens and earth which shall be after the fiery deluge, 2 Peter 3:1-13; Romans 8:21, when the ark of the church to separate us from the world shall be needed no more, Revelation 21:1-22); contrast Isaiah 57:20 with Matthew 3:16; Matthew 11:29.
        Noah did not leave the ark until God gave the word; as Jesus waited in the tomb until with the third messenger of day the Father raised Him (Ephesians 1:20). Noah's first act was a sacrifice of thanksgiving; "and Jehovah smelled a savour of rest," in consonance with Noah's name meaning "rest", and promised, in consideration of man's evil infirmity, not to curse the ground any more nor to smite every living thing as He had done, but to cause seedtime and harvest, day and night, not to cease. In the three great ethnological divisions, Semitics, Aryans (Indo-Europeans), and Turanians, the tradition of the flood exists. The Aryan has the Greek accounts of Ogyges' and Deucalion's floods, on account of men's deterioration in the brazen age (Pindar, Ol. 9:37). As Deucalion threw the bones Of mother earth behind his back, and they became men, so the Tamanaki on the Orinoco represent the surviving man to have thrown the palm fruit. (Ovid, Metam. 1:240; Apollodorus, i.) Lucian (de Syra Des, 12-13) says it destroyed all mankind.
        Hindu tradition says Manu was ordered by a great fish to build a ship secured to the horn of Brahma in a fish form to escape the deluge, and was at last landed on a northern mountain. The Phrygian Annakos who lived more than 300 years in Iconium (Enoch, whose years were 365) foretold the deluge. A medal of Apamea, a pagan monument, in Septimius Severus' reign represented the current tradition namely, a floating ark, two persons within, two going out of it; a bird is on the ark, another flying to it with a branch; No is on some coins: evidently borrowed from the Hebrew record. The Chinese Fahe, the founder of their civilization, escapes from the flood, and is the first man with his wife, three sons and three daughters, in the renovated world (Hardwick, "Christ and other Masters," 3:16). The Fiji islanders (Wilkes' Expl. Exped.) believe in a deluge from which eight were saved in a canoe (Hardwick, 3:185).
        The aborigines of America were of one stock, the Turanian; the Mexicans (the Aztecs, Mixtecs, Zapotecs, Plascaltecs, and Mechoacans) represent a man (Coxcox) and woman in a barque, a mountain, the dove, and the vulture. The Cherokee Indians believe a dog incited one family to build a boat wherein they were saved from the flood which destroyed all people. In the royal library of the old palace of Nineveh were found about 20,000 inscribed clay tablets, now in the British Museum. Mr. G. Smith has deciphered the account of the flood in three distinct copies, containing duplicate texts of an ancient original. The copies are of the Assyrian king Assurbanipal's time, i.e. 660 B.C. The original, according to the tablets, belonged to the city of Erech, and was in Semitic Babylonian. The variant readings in the three copies have crept into the text in the lapse of ages. The Assyrian copyists did not always know the modern representatives of the ancient forms of the characters in the original, so have left some in their obsolete hieratic form.
        The scribe has recorded the divisions of lines in the original. What were originally explanatory glosses have been incorporated in the text. The Assyrians used commonly to copy Babylonian classics. Assurbanipal was closely connected with Erech, it alone remaining loyal when the rest of Babylonia revolted; to it therefore he restored the idol Nana, which the Elamites carried away 1635 years before (2295 B.C.). Mr. Smith thinks the original text was about 1700 B.C. Izdubar (Nimrod according to Smith) the hero, a sage, asks Sisit or Hasisadra (Greek Xisuthrus), an immortal, son of Ubaratutu, how he became so; in reply he narrates the story of the flood, and assigns his own piety as the cause of his translation. The gods revealed to him their decree: "make a great ship ... for I will destroy the sinners and life ... cause to go in the seed of life, all of it to preserve them.
        The ship ... cubits shall be the measure of its length, and ... cubits the amount of its breadth and height. Into the deep launch it. ... I said, this that thou commandest me I will perform. I brought on the fifth day ... in its circuit 14 measures ... its sides 14 measures ... over it a roof ... I poured over the outside three measures of bitumen ... I poured over the inside three measures of bitumen ... I caused to go up into the ship all my male and female servants, the beasts, the animals of the field .... Shamas spoke, I will cause it to rain from heaven heavily, enter ... the ship, shut thy door ... I entered ... shut my door ... to guide the ship to Buzursadiribi the pilot I gave. The bright earth to a waste was turned. The flood destroyed all life from the face of the earth ... Ishtar ... the great goddess said, the world to sin has turned. Six days and nights the storm overwhelmed, on the seventh the storm was calmed. I opened the window, I sent forth a dove .... it searched a rest which it did not find, and returned. I sent forth a swallow and it returned. I sent forth a raven and it did not return.
        I poured out a libation, I built an altar on the peak of the "mountain" (Mizir, the Ararat of the Bible; in Assyrian geography the precipitous range overlooking the valley of the Tigris N.E. of Mosul, Arabic Judi, Assyrian Guti). When his judgment was accomplished, Bel went up to the midst of the ship and took my hand and brought me out ... my wife ... he purified the country, he established in a covenant, ... then dwelt Sisit at the mouth of the rivers. Sisit said, the chief who grasps at life, the like way a storm shall be laid upon him." This account agrees with the Bible in making the flood a divine punishment for sin, and threatening the taking of life for life. The oldest Babylonian traditions center around the Persian gulf, accordingly the tradition assumes a form suiting a maritime people. Surippak in the Babylonian king Hammurabi's inscriptions 1600 B.C. is called "the city of the ark."
        The "ark" becomes a "ship," it is launched into the sea in charge of a pilot. Berosus' fragment preserves a similar Chaldean story: "Xisuthrus, warned by Kronos of a coming flood, wrote a history of the beginning, course, and end of all things, and buried it in the city of the sun, Sippara; built a vessel five stadia long and two broad, and put on board food, birds, and quadrupeds, wife, children and friends. After the flood abated Xisuthrus sent out birds which not finding food or rest returned. Again he sent, and they returned with mud on their feet. The third time they returned no more. The vessel being stranded on a mountain, Nizir, E. of the Tigris, he quitted it, built an altar, and sacrificed to the gods and disappeared. The rest went to Babylon from Armenia, where part of the vessel remains in the Corcyrean (Kurdistan) mountains; they dug up the writings at Sippara, and built temples and cities, and Babylon became inhabited again" (Cory's Anc. Fragm. 26-29).
        No record of the flood appears in the Egyptian monuments, but Plato (Timaeus, 21) testifies that the Egyptians believed that catastrophes from time to time by God's anger had visited all lands but Egypt; the last was a deluge submerging all lands but Egypt, 8,000 years before Solon's visit to Amosis, no rain falling in Egypt. The various yet mainly agreeing accounts imply the original unity of mankind diverging from one common center after the flood, and carrying to their various lands the story which has by corruption assumed various shapes. The Bible narrative unites details scattered up and down in various traditions but nowhere else combined:
        (1) The divine warning in the Babylonian, Hindu, and Cherokee accounts.
        (2) The care for animals in the Babylonian, Indian, and Polynesian versions.
        (3) The eight saved in the Fiji and Chinese stories (the latter specifying a man, his wife, three sons and their wives).
        (4) The birds sent forth before leaving the ark, in the Babylonian.
        (5) The dove, in the Greek and the Mexican.
        (6) The olive branch, in the Phrygian legend.
        (7) The building of the altar afterward, in the Babylonian and the Greek account.
        (8) The bitumen, in the Erech version; also shutting the door; the cause, sin; the seven days, the dove returning, the raven not so; the mountain; the Deity bringing out from the ark and establishing a covenant; the retribution for taking life.
        The Bible account cannot be derived from anyone of these traditions, while they all can flow from it. Probably Shem related the event as it would strike an eye witness, "all the high hills under the whole heaven were covered ... 15 cubits upward," as doubtless they ascertained by a plumbline. If Babylonia were the region of Noah few hills were in view and those low, possibly the Zagros range. Deuteronomy 2:25; Genesis 41:57; 1 Kings 18:10, show the limited sense of "all the high hills under the whole heaven." A flood destroying all the existing race of man, and those animals alone in the limited region, as yet occupied by man, and covering the visible horizon, satisfies the requirements of Scripture. Thus geological, physical, and zoological (namely, the distribution of animals, each continent having for ages before the flood its own peculiar species, and the numbers being vast) objections are solved. Not that there is insufficiency of water to submerge the earth, nay the water is to the land as three-fifths to two-fifths; a universal flood might have been for 150 days, and yet leave no trace discernible now.
        But the other difficulties make a partial one probable. The geological diluvium is distinct from the historical. The diluvium or drift in many places, consisting of sand, pebbles, organic remains, and rock fragments, was produced by violent eruptions of water at various times, not the comparatively tranquil flood of Scripture. Traces of man are supposed to be found during the formation of the drift, but that formation was apparently the work of ages, and these before Noah, not of a temporary submersion. Moses implies the ark did not drift far from where it was first lifted up, and grounded about the same place. The flood rose by degrees, not displacing the soil, nor its vegetable tribes as the olive, nor rendering the ground unfit for cultivating the vine. Hence the nonappearance of traces of the flood accords with the narrative. But the elevation of mountains followed by floods submerging whole regions is traceable, and further confirms the account of Noah's flood. Depression of the large tracts occupied by the existing race of men would open the fountains of the deep, so that the land would be submerged.
        Psalm 29:10 translated "Jehovah sat (so sit, Psalm 9:4; Psalm 9:7-8; Joel 3:12) at the flood"; mabbul, Noah's deluge; as King and Judge vindicating His people and destroying their ungodly foe, "and therefore Jehovah will sit King for ever." Their foes now are what "the flood" was then (Isaiah 28:2; Isaiah 59:19; Jeremiah 46:7-8; Jeremiah 47:2). Jehovah will not let them overwhelm His people, as He did not let it overwhelm Noah. "As God swore the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth," so He swears He will, after His mercy returns to Israel, "no more be angry with nor rebuke her" (Isaiah 54:9). Christ stamps the history as true, declaring that the world's unpreparedness for His second coming, through engrossment in business and pleasure, shall be such as it was in Noah's days before the flood (Matthew 24:37; Luke 17:26). Peter (2 Peter 3:3-13) confutes the scoffers of the last days who deny the Lord's coming to judgment on the plea "all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation," but the same objection might have been urged before the flood against its possibility.
        Yet the earth was deluged by that water out of which it had originally risen; (2 Peter 3:6) "by which (plural Greek) heavens and earth, in respect to the waters which flowed together from both, the then world perished, in respect to its occupants, men and animals, and its existing order" (kosmos); for "the fountains of the great deep were broken up" from the earth below, and "the windows of heaven above were opened. So "the heavens and the earth which are now, by the same word (which first made the existing order of men and animals, and then destroyed them) are kept in store, reserved unto fire (stored up within our earth, and the action of which appears in our igneous reeks once in a state of fusion, also in the sun our central luminary) against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men." Noah as second head of mankind receives God's blessing (Genesis 9), the first part of it the repetition of that on Adam (Genesis 1:28), "be fruitful, multiply, and replenish the earth," which blessing had been marred by man's sin. Terror, not as in Eden love, should subject the lower animals to man, God's vicegerent.
        Vegetable diet had heretofore been the sole one sanctioned (Genesis 1:29), as it is still in some Eastern countries. Whether men restricted themselves from flesh or not, previous to the flood, is unknown. Now first its use was explicitly conceded, man's needs often finding insufficient food from the ground under the curse; thus Lamech's prophecy was fulfilled (Genesis 5:29), Noah his son becoming head of the regenerated world under more favorable circumstances. But flesh with the life or blood in it was not to be eaten, both for humanity's sake, and also as typifying His blood shedding in whom is our life (Leviticus 17:10-11; Acts 15:29). Moreover, henceforth (though formerly having let Cain live) God requires man's blood of the shedder, whether man or beast (Exodus 21:28; Psalm 9:12). As the priesthood belonged to all Israel, before it was delegated to Aaron's family as Israel's representative, so the judicial and magisterial authority belonged to mankind, and was subsequently delegated to particular magistrates as mankind's representatives.
        The security of the natural world from destruction by flood is guaranteed by God's promise, and that of the social world by God's making human life inviolable on the ground of man's bearing God's image. These three precepts, abstinence from blood, murder punishable by death (Romans 13:1-4, etc.), the civil authority, have four more added by inference, constituting the "seven precepts of Noah": abstinence from blasphemy, incest and unchastity, theft, and idolatry. As Noah the head of the new family of man represents all peoples, God takes the rainbow, a natural phenomenon, seen by all everywhere, as pledge of His covenant with mankind; so when covenanting with one nation in Abraham's person, He made circumcision, an arbitrary sign, His seal. (See BOW.) As Scripture records Noah's piety so also his sin. Wine making was probably one of the discoveries of the ingenious but self indulgent Cainites. Noah, having planted a vine (Armenia being celebrated for vines), through sinful ignorance and infirmity suffered himself to be overcome by wine. The saint's sin always brings its chastisement. He exposed his person; his shame stirred up Ham's mocking undutifulness and dislike of his father's piety. (See HAM; CANAAN.)
        Canaan shared Ham's guilt, and by undutifulness should wound his father as the latter had wounded Noah. God overruled, as always, this fall of Noah to His glory, His righteousness becoming known by Noah's prophecy, reaching to the last ages. Ham, who despised his duty as a son, hears his son's doom to be a slave. The curse fell on Ham at the sorest point, namely, in his son's person. Canaan became "slave of Shem's" descendant, Israel. Tyre fell before Greece, Carthage before Rome, and Africa for ages has been the land of slaves. frontJAPHETH on his foretold "dwelling in the tents of Shem.")
        "Blessed be Jehovah (the covenant fulfilling) God of Shem" marks that to Israel, Shem's representative, Jehovah should especially reveal Himself as their God, and through Israel ultimately to "the whole earth" (Psalm 72:18-19; Isaiah 2:2-5; Romans 11:12-32). Noah lived after the flood 350 years. Noah was the second father and federal representative head of man-kind; alone after the flood, as Adam was alone in Eden. The flood brought back man to his original unity. The new world emerging from the water was to Noah what Eden had been to Adam. Noah's vine was the counterpart to the two trees of Eden: a tree of life in the moderate use of its fruit, a tree of knowledge of evil, shame, and death in excess, which, lust persuaded him as in Eve's case, would raise him to expanded knowledge and bliss.

Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew Robert M.A., D.D., "Definition for 'noah' Fausset's Bible Dictionary". - Fausset's; 1878.

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